Thursday, April 16, 2009

Film Space schedule

At Film Space on Saturdays at 7 pm


April is “The Month of Animation at Film Space.


Film Space is to the right and in the back of the CMU Art Museum, in the Media Arts and Design building across from the ballet school. Showings are in a classroom on the second floor or on the roof, weather permitting. For the roof, you might want to bring something to sit on or lie on. A contribution is requested in the donation box at the entrance – you should leave 20 baht. Well worth supporting.


At Film Space Saturday, April 18:  Persepolis (2007)written and directed by Vincent Paronnaud and Marjane Satrapi 96 mins – France/ US, Animation/Biography/Drama/ War. Reviews: Universal acclaim: 90/82 out of 100.

France's official submission for the Best Foreign-Language Film category at the 2008 Academy Awards. Scheduled to be the opening night film at the 2007 Bangkok Film Festival, but Iran's government pressured the organizers to drop it from the lineup. And in July 2008 the Iranian embassy angrily protested the screening of Persepolis during the 37th Wellington Film Festival, New Zealand.


Rotten Tomatoes synopsis: Persepolis is an emotionally powerful, dramatically enthralling autobiographical gem, and the film's simple black-and-white images are effective and bold.


Variety: Any stragglers still unconvinced that animation can be an exciting medium for both adults and kids will run out of arguments in the face of Persepolis. Like the four-volume series of graphic novels on which it's based, this autobiographical tour de force is completely accessible and art of a very high order. First-person tale of congenitally rebellious Marjane Satrapi, who was 8 years old when the Islamic Revolution transformed her native Teheran, boasts a bold lyricism spanning great joy and immense sorrow. In both concept and execution, hand-drawn toon is a winner.


Based on Persepolis, a French-language autobiographical graphic novel series by Marjane Satrapi (shown in picture) depicting her childhood in Iran after the revolution. The title is a reference to the historical town of Persepolis, the name being a Greek interpretation of "City of Pars", the ceremonial capital of the Persian Empire during the Achaemenid dynasty. It is situated some 70 km northeast of the modern city of Shiraz in the Fars Province of modern Iran., Boyd van Hoeij: Quite simply one of the best book adaptations and animated films to have come out of Europe in recent years, it’s a film experience one is unlikely to forget. The film won a shared Grand Prix at the recent Cannes Film Festival and has already attracted over 700,000 viewers in France since its release three weeks ago. Not bad for an animated film that is mostly in black-and-white, has strong political overtones and is squarely aimed at adults.


The film is an adaptation of a comic book (or "graphic novel") series penned by Marjane Satrapi and based largely on her own experiences as a rebellious young girl growing up in 1970s and 1980s Iran before being sent off "into safety" in Europe. In her life, the growing pains of a free-spirited young girl happen to occur alongside the fall of the Shah’s rule and the Islamic Revolution. With its perfect blend of the personal and the political, Persepolis tells the parallel stories of a girl and a country trying to grow up and find out what’s right for them, though both are often taken hostage by foreign impulses.


Inside the Satrapi home, little Marjane (pronounced "Marzjahn") is brought up by her free-thinking mother and loving father with frequent visits from their foul-mouthed but oh-so-wise grandmother. Their household is hopeful when the oppressive regime of the Shah is brought down by a popular uprising, but despair when the new regime ushers in the Islamic Revolution that led to even more restrictions and, finally, to war with neighboring Iraq that tried to profit from the country's military weakness after the recent change of regime.


By telling the story from the perspective of a young girl and by juxtaposing family life and larger geopolitical and historical happenings, the directors create a powerful tale of growing up in extremely difficult circumstances that is accessible for even those with limited to no knowledge of recent Iranian history. Though animated and with very few graphic on-screen deaths, the events related are certainly not meant for young children. Family members of Marjane are incarcerated, people are intimidated, oppressed, and in some cases assassinated. Senseless war violence and nasty child play are shown side by side to chilling effect. Goods readily available in the West, such as rock music or alcohol, need to be procured illegally or made in secret hideaways.


The animation is a combination of painterly chalkboard details and ligne claire – both of the black-on-white and white-on-black variety – and of 2D, 3D and flash animation, with most of the film’s scenes in clean black, white and greys. The directors use these contrasts often to great effect, for example blending the angry crowds in the streets of Teheran into one uniform block of black to illustrate the force of the masses; or showing a shot-down black silhouette bleeding black blood until the entire screen is black. Black is also the color of the burqas that rob the women of their individual traits, though, even in this film, eyes can and do tell a lot.


The Iranian government is less than enthusiastic about the film’s depiction of the Islamic revolution and has called for a boycott – after its Cannes debut, it has convinced several other festivals to drop the film from their programmes. While drinking alcohol or depicting God are against the rules of Islam, this is not what Persepolisis really about. It does not want to shock for the sake of shocking. Instead, it tries to come to terms with growing up, finding oneself and one's own values in a society that sees individualism as something suspect.


At Film Space Saturday, April 25:  La Vieille dame et les pigeons/ The Old Lady and the Pigeons (1998)Sylvain Chomet 25 mins – France/ UK/ Canada, Animation/Comedy/ Short. Reviews: Universal acclaim: 90/82 out of 100.


Nominated for an Oscar;BAFTA Award for best animated short.


A cranky gendarme sees an old woman feeding pigeons in the park and schemes to get his own grand repast. Except for tourist commentsat the start and end, Sylvain Chomet's animation is a dialogue-free surreal delight. Other works:The Triplets of Belleville.


IMDb viewer:The Old Lady and the Pigeons is the epitome of bad taste cartoons, a darkly fun half-hour in the company of skewed figures and warped minds.


You can catch a taste of what the film is like by clicking here.



May is The Month of Funny Little Things at Film Space.



At Film Space Saturday, May 2:  Be Kind Rewind (2008)Michel Gondry 102 mins – US, Comedy/Drama/ Sci-Fi. Reviews: Mixed or average reviews: 52/60 out of 100.


Rotten Tomatoes: Music-video-director-turned-auteur Michel Gondry continues to charm with his low-tech offering, Be Kind Rewind. Set in dreary Passaic, New Jersey, the comedy centers on two of the town's residents: trouble-making Jerry (Jack Black) and well-meaning Mike (Mos Def). Mike works in a video store in an age where the VHS is long dead, but the store's owner, Mr. Fletcher (Danny Glover), doesn't seem to be in any hurry to change. When Mr. Fletcher leaves town for a trip, he entrusts his store to Mike with one piece of advice: don't let Jerry in the store. But after some mischief, Jerry returns to the store in a strange state. Not only is he weirder than usual, but he's also magnetized, which causes the entire store's stock to be erased. In order to keep the struggling business afloat, Mike and Jerry begin remaking the films in the store one by one. Their hilariously low-budget versions of films such as Ghostbusters and Rush Hour 2 soon begin to draw attention and business to the store, but that creates a whole new set of problems for the pair. Though Gondry's three previous fiction filmsHuman Nature, Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind, and The Science Of Sleepwere all essentially love stories, Be Kind Rewindcaptures another kind of romance. Both the writer-director and his characters are in love with the cinematic medium itself, and their devotion shows. Be Kind Rewind doesn't reach the heights of Eternal Sunshine, but it doesn't seem to be aiming for that genius. This is simply a hilarious comedy, fun for film fans of all stripes, which celebrates the sheer joy of watching and making films.




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